ARLINGTON, TEXAS (ANS) — Africa is a vast and diverse continent boasting 54 nations. However, 44 African countries still don’t have a sign language Bible translation for local Deaf individuals, according to Mission Network News (MNN).
Fasil Kidane, Africa field coordinator with Deaf Bible Society says, “We do actually have around 11 translations complete right now in Africa. There are 44 countries that still have no translations in Africa. There are a few that have bits and pieces of the Bible translated.”
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MNN says Kidane is a Deaf Ethiopian man living in the US with his wife and son. His work with Deaf Bible Society includes training for Deaf Bible Together — groups that help connect the Deaf community. Kidane also works with sign language Bible translation teams throughout Africa to provide support in various capacities.
“Deaf Bible [Society] is not doing the translations. We support the various teams. Being the field coordinator, I engage with all of these teams and I figure out what those translation needs are — whether it’s funding [or] whether it’s equipment such as laptops, cameras, [and] lighting.
“Then we also develop various trainings in regards to the technology. We provide various workshops on how they can request support. We also provide various trainings in regards to Deaf culture and how it’s different there, [and] provide consultant training so the teams can work with the consultants.”
MNN stated that communication across the ocean can be difficult, so Kidane and other Deaf Bible Society staff will sometimes go to Africa to conduct trainings and offer support in-person.
The laundry list of African countries where Deaf Bible Society currently supports translation teams includes Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, and Rwanda.
“It’s actually essentially the first Scripture for Rwanda, so it’s the first time that they’ve ever done any type of Scripture,” Kidane says. “We’re definitely coming alongside them to offer any support that we can.”
MNN said that next year, Deaf Bible Society also has plans to support sign language Bible translation efforts in South Sudan, Mozambique, Burundi, and eSwatini (formerly Swaziland).
“There’s an additional 10 countries that have actually contacted Deaf Bible [Society] in regards to wanting a Bible translation. So we’re planning to start engaging with those countries, but we don’t know what their future holds currently. Some of those…countries [are] Cameroon, Malawi,…and then Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.”
Kidane is hopeful that several sign language Bible translations will be finished in the next five years — which means Deaf people in those African language groups will have access to God’s Word in their heart sign language for the first time.
MNN also said Deaf Bible Society is also starting a training school in Israel called the Josiah School of Translation. Plans are currently underway to send translation teams from Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda to JST. Each team will include a project manager, two translators, and a video editor.
“Deaf Bible [Society]’s goal is to bring the teams up so they can continue the translations on their own…so that we can continue to get God’s Word out in all these sign languages.”
With so many eternities at stake among the Deaf in Africa, Deaf Bible Society is not wasting any time. But they need support from the global Body of Christ — both hearing and Deaf — to get God’s Word translated into African sign languages.
Kidane says, “We’re just asking for continued prayer throughout Africa so the translations can continue, and then continue to [be] widespread around the world.”
You can learn more about Deaf Bible Society’s work in Africa at their website, and follow the ministry on Facebook for outreach updates!
Also, Kidane invites those near Deaf Bible Society’s headquarters in Arlington, Texas to say hello! “If you guys want to get involved…we encourage people to stop by and visit Deaf Bible Society. We have interpreters on-site and we would be happy to show people around our facility.”
To support Deaf Bible Society financially and invest in a Deaf Gospel movement, click here https://www.deafbiblesociety.com/donate/process?donate-cost=28&amount=28&donate-type=monthly
The author of this story, Michael Ireland, is a self-supported media missionary with ANS. Click here to support him as a missionary journalist.